COLUMBUS– Yesterday, State Reps. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) introduced legislation to create an eviction defense fund and establish a right to counsel for certain tenants facing eviction.
“An eviction can be very disruptive and traumatic to a family. Here in Ohio, we have the chance to help families by ensuring that they have access to an attorney throughout the legal process,” said Rep. Galonski. “I am grateful that this issue was brought to my attention through my fellow Black Maternal Health Caucus members, and I am thankful that co-chair Rep. Hicks-Hudson agreed to be a joint sponsor for this important legislation.”
This legislation would:
Create an eviction defense fund to provide funding to legal aid societies or non-profits wishing to provide legal services;
Establish a right to counsel for defendants in eviction proceedings who are at or below 250% of the federal poverty level and have at least one child.
“This legislation will be a win-win for families and landlords. By providing representation to defendants as they go through this legal proceeding, we can help landlords regain their property while also helping families during a hard economic time. The success of the Toledo Housing Court program is an example we can follow for Ohioans across the state,” said Rep. Hicks-Hudson.
Similar bills establishing the right to counsel in housing court have already seen success at the local level. In the last three months alone, the city of Toledo’s recently-created tenant right to legal counsel program has assisted 56 households with eviction cases.
The legislation awaits a bill number and assignment to a House committee.